There are 2 main definitions of lie in English:

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lie 1

Pronunciation: /lʌɪ/

verb (lies, lying /ˈlʌɪɪŋ/; past lay /leɪ/; past participle lain /leɪn/)

[no object, with adverbial]
1(Of a person or animal) be in or assume a horizontal or resting position on a supporting surface: the body lay face downwards on the grass I had to lie down because I was groggy Lily lay back on the pillows and watched him
More example sentences
  • You'll lie here and rest until the young master recommends otherwise for you!
  • By 11.30 pm, my stomach was growling and I was lying horizontal on the sofa yawning, as she made mention yet again of leaving.
  • She was lying, asleep we assumed, on the carpet outside our bedroom door.
recline, lie down, lie back, be recumbent, be prostrate, be supine, be prone, be stretched out, stretch oneself out, lean back, sprawl, rest, repose, relax, lounge, loll, bask
1.1(Of a thing) rest flat on a surface: a book lay open on the table
More example sentences
  • The walls were made of stone and a small pallet lay by two book cases.
  • Beer bottles and cups were scattered about the room and a pizza box lay open on the table.
  • He circled around the machine to where a sole book lay on a work surface.
1.2(Of a dead person) be buried in a particular place: his body lies in a crypt his epitaph reads ‘Here lies Garcia, King of Galicia and Portugal
More example sentences
  • For more than 400 years, the remains of James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, have lain in a Danish church where they were turned into a grisly tourist attraction.
  • The corpses were left where they lay pending forensic examination today.
  • He lies among the remains of pontiffs from centuries past and near the tomb traditionally believed to be of the Apostle Peter, the first pope.
be buried, be interred, be laid to rest, rest, be entombed
rare be inhumed, be sepulchred
2Be, remain, or be kept in a specified state: the abbey lies in ruins today putting homeless families into private houses that would otherwise lie empty
More example sentences
  • After all, there would be no point in saving a building just for it to lie empty and rot.
  • As a child I wandered through it when it lay silent and empty.
  • For 170 years Ballina's Augustinian Abbey has lain derelict and inconspicuous at the bottom of Ardnaree near St Muredach's Cathedral.
2.1(Of something abstract) reside or be found: the solution lies in a return to traditional values
More example sentences
  • Similarly, our comedies season is not just about laughter, but the yearning for harmony and reconciliation which lies at the heart of Shakespeare's great comedies.
  • The Belgian band encapsulated the friendly spirit of fraternity that lies at the heart of folk.
  • It's the coming together with a common purpose of two such different men that lies at the heart of his novel.
consist, be inherent, inhere, be present, be contained, exist, reside, have its existence/being
3(Of a place) be situated in a specified position or direction: Kexby lies about five miles due east of York
More example sentences
  • The town of Shanhaiguan lies on a five mile sliver of plain between mountains and sea, a pass that opens like an avenue into the heart of China.
  • Bishop's Crossing is a small village lying ten miles in a south-westerly direction from Liverpool.
  • The neutral locus lies at two different positions between two selected loci.
be situated, be located, be placed, be positioned, be found, be sited, be established, be
3.1(Of a scene) extend from the observer’s viewpoint in a specified direction: stand here, and all of Amsterdam lies before you
More example sentences
  • Wind whistled against the hole in the back wall, which heightened the eerie effect of the scene which lay before them.
  • An open door lay beyond them and Chris could see the first few steps of the staircase that would lead him to the top floor.
3.2British (Of a competitor or team) be in a specified position during a competition or within a group: United are currently lying in fifth place
More example sentences
  • The first team currently lie mid-table in the York and District League division one, while the reserves prop up reserve ‘B’.
  • On Wednesday night, against a team lying fifth in the Portuguese league, United made their earliest exit from the Champions League in a decade.
  • The Cape Town team is currently lying mid-table and will be desperate to prove their cup success last season was no fluke.
4 Law (Of an action, charge, or claim) be admissible or sustainable: an action for restitution would lie for money paid in breach of the law
More example sentences
  • Before the judge and before us there was some debate whether such a claim lies for breach of fiduciary duty generally or only those which also involve the misapplication of property.
  • Where a policy provides cover against one of two or more concurrent causes of a casualty, a claim will lie under the policy provided that there is no relevant exclusion.
  • Prerogative remedies for criminal charges will not ordinarily lie where an appeal is available.


(usually the lie)
1The way, direction, or position in which something lies: he was familiarizing himself with the lie of the streets
More example sentences
  • With the lie of Scottish theatreland already shifting, we are seeing a nascent, semiconscious shuffling for position for next year's awards.
  • Then, too, I am scared of tying too much money up here, not being entirely sure where the lie of the politics is.
  • You should brush along the lie of the hair, and in the places hardest for the cat to reach such as under the chin and the back of the neck.
1.1 Golf The position in which a golf ball comes to rest, especially as regards the ease of the next shot: the lie, in deep rough on a bank, was not good
More example sentences
  • Change the lie and the shot to keep your mind engaged.
  • You can play this shot off any lie, even bare ground if your wedge has minimal bounce.
  • As the lie gets deeper, the ball automatically goes farther back in your stance.
1.2The lair or place of cover of an animal.


The verb lie is often confused with the verb lay, giving rise to incorrect uses such as he is laying on the bed (correct use is he is lying on the bed) or why don’t you lie it on the bed? (correct use is why don’t you lay it on the bed?). See lay1 (usage).



let something lie

Take no action regarding a problematic matter: ‘Are you planning a follow-up to the programme?’ ‘No, we’ll let it lie for now.’
More example sentences
  • Having done so in 1993 and having been told to get lost, he had essentially let matters lie.
  • At that point there was no opportunity of changing them but the team captain chose not to let the matters lie but instead continued to agitate about them, particularly in the newspaper article.
  • He said last night that he would not let the matter lie and that he would make an official complaint as it was a clear breach of the rules.

lie heavy on one

Cause one to feel troubled or uncomfortable: it was the loss of human life that lay heavy on him
More example sentences
  • At night the stars lay heavy on me, but I'd be stuffed if I'd ever say something like that to anyone.
  • Our relationship, now infected with deceit, lay heavy on me.
trouble, worry, bother, torment, oppress, nag, prey on one's mind, plague, niggle at, gnaw at, haunt;
be a burden to, burden, press down on, weigh down, be a great weight on, weigh heavily on someone's mind, cause anxiety to
informal bug, aggravate

lie in state

(Of the corpse of a person of national importance) be laid in a public place of honour before burial: the candlelit chapel where the king’s body lay in state
More example sentences
  • And then at 8: 30 Eastern tomorrow night, the body will lie in state for the public.
  • For eight decades he has been lying in state on public display, a cadaver in a succession of dark suits, encased in a glass box beside a walkway in the basement of his granite mausoleum.
  • The body will then lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda so that the public will be able to pay tribute to him.

lie low

(Especially of a criminal) keep out of sight; avoid detection or attention: at the time of the murder he appears to have been lying low in a barn
More example sentences
  • If the criminal was found lying low for a protracted period, the surveillance would automatically be lessened.
  • This keen perception also alerts them when it's time to lay low and avoid trouble.
  • Since they are flying mostly at night (back in those early days of the war), our main challenge is to lie low and take cover while letting them hit those empty barracks or the dummies.
hide, go into hiding, hide out, find a hiding place, conceal oneself, keep out of sight, keep a low profile, take cover, go to earth, go to ground, go underground, cover one's tracks, lurk, skulk
informal hole up
British informal lie doggo

the lie (North American lay) of the land

The features or characteristics of an area: a night patrol about to scout out the lie of the land
More example sentences
  • I've been studying the map and I want to take a look at the lie of the land in daylight.
  • Their mission, as a reconnaissance regiment, was to operate in advance of the heavy tanks, to spy out the lie of the land and report back on enemy activity and position.
  • It was only by climbing a steep hill in the morning which overlooked the wadhi bed that we could work out the lie of the land.
5.1The current situation: she was beginning to see the lie of the land with her in-laws
More example sentences
  • The directors are in India regularly seeing partners, government and bureaucrats - checking out the lie of the land.
  • It's nice to know you're wanted, nice to get the lie of the land.
  • We will just have to wait and see what the lie of the land is.

take something lying down

[usually with negative] Accept an insult, setback, or rebuke without protest: she’s laughing at me for being weak and I’m not going to take it lying down any longer
More example sentences
  • The visitors refused to take this setback lying down and almost immediately forced a corner.
  • Congressional wildlife supporters didn't take the ambush lying down.
  • This was never the kind of game where players took things lying down.

Phrasal verbs


lie ahead

Be going to happen: I’m excited by what lies ahead
More example sentences
  • Why has God cursed me with such a gift, to see what lies ahead in a town with such hardships and pain ahead?
  • I would add that the conference's refined dialogue and inquiry did not blunt the prickly sense of more image-trouble lying ahead.
  • ‘I think there are big problems lying ahead and one day those donor countries will wake up,’ he says.

lie around/about

(Of an object) be left carelessly out of place: I became irritated at the pills and potions lying around the house
More example sentences
  • Too many innocent lives are lost owing to power cables left lying around carelessly.
  • I did consider having a quick rake around to see if anything significant was lying around, but thought better of it.
  • Big, dirty green and around the size of footballs they lay around till late evening when the courtyard is cleaned for the procession.
2.1(Of a person) pass the time lazily or aimlessly: you all just lay around all day on your backsides, didn’t you?
More example sentences
  • Instead, relaxing, lying around in bed, going out and eating nice food was the order of the day.
  • I'd basically lie around and wait for it to pass.
  • No one came over, no one went out, and we just lied around and hung out as a family.

lie behind

Be the real, often hidden, reason for (something): a subtle strategy lies behind such silly claims
More example sentences
  • They're exposing the hidden stories that lie behind such killings: stories about property, money and unpaid loans.
  • So you can't tell what reasons lie behind terror attacks.
  • The reasons that lie behind this unsurpassed forging of great language are open to debate.

lie in

British Remain in bed after the normal time for getting up: if I’m not due anywhere I’ll lie in until something kick-starts the day
archaic4.1 (Of a pregnant woman) go to bed to give birth: five hungry children, and a wife lying in of a sixth

lie off

Nautical (Of a ship) stand some distance from shore or from another ship.

lie over

US Break one’s journey: we’ll lie over in New York, then fly to London

lie to

Nautical (Of a ship) come almost to a stop with its head towards the wind.

lie up

(Of a ship) go into dock or be out of commission.

lie with

1(Of a responsibility) be attributable to (someone): ultimate responsibility for the violence lies with the President
More example sentences
  • The upgrade of roads linking Carlow town to these junctions is not regarded as part of the overall scheme, with responsibility for these roads lying with Carlow County Council should the need for their upgrade arise.
  • Some blame her, some blame her adversaries on the board, while others see the responsibility as lying with all of the warring parties.
  • As for contributing comments, the responsibility lies with each posting entity.
2 archaic Have sexual intercourse with: if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife
More example sentences
  • First, notice that this passage says absolutely nothing about a woman lying with a woman.
  • He said it would be better to kill the grown women, and save just ‘the young girls who have not known man by lying with him.’
  • They deflowered themselves upon the carved phalli of Hermes, Tutunus, Priapus or some other ‘anointed’ god before lying with their bridegrooms.


Old English licgan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch liggen and German liegen, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek lektron, lekhos and Latin lectus 'bed'.

  • lager from mid 19th century:

    The fuller name for lager, no longer much used, is lager beer. It comes from German Lagerbier ‘beer brewed for keeping’, from Lager ‘storehouse’, which shares its root with an animal's lair (Old English), and also with lie (Old English). Since the 1980s we have had the lager lout, the young man who drinks too much and then behaves in an unpleasant or violent way. See also beer

Words that rhyme with lie

ally, Altai, apply, assai, awry, ay, aye, Baha'i, belie, bi, Bligh, buy, by, bye, bye-bye, chi, Chiangmai, Ciskei, comply, cry, Cy, Dai, defy, deny, Di, die, do-or-die, dry, Dubai, dye, espy, eye, fie, fly, forbye, fry, Frye, goodbye (US goodby), guy, hereby, hi, hie, high, I, imply, I-spy, July, kai, lye, Mackay, misapply, my, nearby, nigh, Nye, outfly, passer-by, phi, pi, pie, ply, pry, psi, Qinghai, rai, rely, rocaille, rye, scry, serai, shanghai, shy, sigh, sky, Skye, sky-high, sly, spin-dry, spry, spy, sty, Sukhotai, supply, Tai, Thai, thereby, thigh, thy, tie, Transkei, try, tumble-dry, underlie, Versailles, Vi, vie, whereby, why, wry, Wye, xi, Xingtai, Yantai
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There are 2 main definitions of lie in English:

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lie 2

Pronunciation: /lʌɪ/


1An intentionally false statement: they hint rather than tell outright lies the whole thing is a pack of lies
More example sentences
  • And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.
  • It implies that everything up until now has been a pack of lies.
  • I was appalled at the political mileage that was made out of a pack of lies told about desperate people in need.
untruth, falsehood, fib, fabrication, deception, made-up story, trumped-up story, invention, piece of fiction, fiction, falsification, falsity, fairy story/tale, cock and bull story, barefaced lie;
(little) white lie, half-truth, exaggeration, prevarication, departure from the truth;
yarn, story, red herring, fable, myth, flight of fancy, figment of the imagination;
pretence, pretext, sham;
(liesmisinformation, disinformation, perjury, dissimulation, mendacity, gossip, propaganda
informal tall story, tall tale, whopper
British informal porky, pork pie, porky pie
vulgar slang bullshit
Australian/New Zealand vulgar slang bulldust
1.1Used with reference to a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression: all their married life she had been living a lie
More example sentences
  • To be forced to present themselves as if they were lay persons is for them a very painful deception; they feel that they are living a lie.
  • It encouraged me to live deceitfully; I enjoyed living a lie.
  • Eight ordinary people have left behind their regular lives to take part in the series, taking on a fake alias and living a lie.

verb (lies, lying, lied /ˈlʌɪɪŋ/)

[no object]
1Tell a lie or lies: why had Ashenden lied about his visit to London? [with direct speech]: ‘I am sixty-five,’ she lied
More example sentences
  • The police later lied and said he had damaged the bus.
  • If we do, that would be tantamount to lying, deceit or unprofessionalism.
  • At every stage he has lied, prevaricated and obstructed this process of disarmament.
say something untrue, tell an untruth, tell a lie, tell a falsehood, fib, fabricate, invent a story, make up a story, falsify, dissemble, dissimulate, bear false witness;
tell a white lie, prevaricate, exaggerate, stretch the truth;
perjure oneself, commit perjury, forswear oneself, be forsworn;
bluff, pretend, depart from the truth;
deceive, delude, mislead, trick, hoodwink, hoax, take in, lead astray, throw off the scent, send on a wild goose chase, put on the wrong track, pull the wool over someone's eyes
informal lie through one's teeth, con
humorous be economical with the truth, tell a terminological inexactitude
vulgar slang bullshit
1.1(Of a thing) present a false impression: the camera cannot lie



give the lie to

Serve to show that (something previously assumed to be the case) is not true: these figures give the lie to the notion that Britain is excessively strike-ridden
More example sentences
  • This, and other, exceptions to a ‘true’ meritocracy give the lie to protestations that merit admissions are in fact the order of the day at the Nation's universities.
  • These figures give the lie to claims that Australia cannot afford increased defence spending.
  • Bucking the national trend, 82 per cent of voters turned out, giving the lie to all the talk of voter apathy.

I tell a lie (or that's a lie)

British informal Used to correct oneself immediately when one realizes that one has made an incorrect remark: I never used to dream—I tell a lie, I did dream when I was little
More example sentences
  • Actually, that's a lie, I returned to York on Monday night but this is the first time I've actually sat down at my computer to go through my e-mails.
  • Actually that's a lie; I've seen daughter #3 covet some of the things in that shop and she's almost 19!
  • Actually, that's a lie - we managed to establish that we both love liquorice.

lie through one's teeth

informal Tell an outright lie without remorse: ‘Don’t worry, Lavender, you’ll soon catch up’, Miss Honey said, lying through her teeth
More example sentences
  • Their continued obfuscation, their attempts to throw dust in people's eyes, leads me to believe that they're lying through their teeth.
  • But then, lying through your teeth and being caught out is never a terrific PR conquest.
  • The Council are lying through their teeth on this issue and I'm still not convinced that someone cannot be held criminally responsible for all this.


Old English lyge (noun), lēogan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch liegen and German lügen.

  • lager from mid 19th century:

    The fuller name for lager, no longer much used, is lager beer. It comes from German Lagerbier ‘beer brewed for keeping’, from Lager ‘storehouse’, which shares its root with an animal's lair (Old English), and also with lie (Old English). Since the 1980s we have had the lager lout, the young man who drinks too much and then behaves in an unpleasant or violent way. See also beer

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